Reading Time: 6 minutes We know what they are. We may even have some stashed away in the dark recesses of our humidors. Now it’s time to bring these unsung heroes of the cigar world out from the shadows and show them the love they deserve. Check out our Cigar Advisor Guide to the 10 Best Yardgars and discover your next everyday classic.
Best Cigars When You’re Manning the Grill
Top Cigars and Recipes for a Smoking Hot Barbecue Cookout!
Updated September 2022
Like carving a turkey on Thanksgiving, standing sentinel at the grill is a man’s domain. And this summer if you’re attending a backyard barbecue, you’ll find a man manning the grill. He’ll be at-home in his element and surrounded by other men, since grilling brings the added element of danger (what with fire and sharp, pointy, grilling tools to poke and prod). Add some adult beverages and choice cigars for before and after the meal and you’ve got the recipe for success.
Speaking of recipes, if you find yourself hosting a backyard summer get together, I’m including a couple here—a burger and a pasta salad—that’ve served me well over the years. However, the following recipes come with a reminder—I’m a cigar guy not a chef.
I don’t have any fancy name for this burger—I just call it damned good. So good, it’ll send vegetarians and vegans fleeing in terror (who invited them anyway). Basically, it’s my Frankenstein version of bacon cheeseburger (heavy on the bacon) with the toppings incorporated as co-stars rather than afterthoughts.
Frankenstein Bacon Cheeseburger Recipe
2lbs Ground Beef
Shredded Cheese: Good options are American, Cheddar, and Blue
Place package of bacon in freezer 20 min prior to making the burger patties. This helps firm up the meat and makes it easier to slice. Remove the bacon and place on cutting board (do not separate strips). Using a sharp knife slice the bacon (against the grain) into pieces about ½” wide.
Cook the bacon on the stovetop until crisp. Drain fat by moving cooked bacon to a paper towel on a plate. Place the ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Dump bacon into bowl and using your hands (or a wooden spoon), mix the bacon and beef until well blended.
Separate beef/bacon mixture into 8 equal portions. They do not need to be patties at this point. Then, take about ¾ of a portion and shape into a burger shape with the center sunken (almost like a bowl). Fill the sunken part of the patty with shredded cheese and use the remaining ¼ portion of the meat mixture to cover the cheese and complete the burger. Repeat for remaining seven.
Grill to desired level of doneness.
A good, hardy burger needs a good, hearty side—and while it isn’t grilled over flame—this pasta salad brings the fire to your tastebuds.
Paul’s Pasta Salad
½ lb. dry rotini pasta 8 oz. halved cherry tomatoes
6 oz. diced pepperoni 2 oz shredded Parmesan cheese (or 1 healthy handful)
6 oz. diced salami 1 bottle of Italian dressing
½ cup sliced black olives (canned) salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sweet corn (canned)
½ cup diced onion
Cook pasta according to the package and set aside to cool. Dice your meats (if not already pre-diced), and onion, and halve the tomatoes. In a large bowl, combine pasta, pepperoni, salami, corn, olives, onion, and tomatoes. Mix well and add a little salt to taste. Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture until well coated (you don’t have to use the entire bottle) and mix until all combined. Add shredded Parmesan cheese.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Now let’s get on to the main attraction—the premium cigars. I’ve picked out four blends to enjoy while gathered around the grill, and five to enjoy after eating your fill of your favorite backyard cookout food.
Cigars for Grilling:
Size: Petite Corona (5 ¼” x 42)
Wrapper: US Connecticut Shade
Don’t be fooled by its smaller stature or the Connecticut Shade wrapper, this little stick packs a premium punch. Coming from Nick Melillo (former Drew Estate blender) and handcrafted at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez in Nicaragua, Charter Oak is a Cigar Advisor favorite owing to its affordable price and impeccable performance. Flavor wise—you’ll find a pleasingly creamy smoke with notes of cedar, sweet tobacco, nuts, charred oak, and some black pepper and baking spice. You’ll find this Charter Oak is a great beginning to a day filled with food, drinks, and fun.
Arturo Fuente Hemingway
Size: Best Seller (4½ x 43/55)
The Fuente that’s as famous for its distinctive shape—almost a combo of a Perfecto and Figurado—as its rich and complex flavor profile. The Best Seller shows off Fuente’s mastery at marrying a toothy Cameroon wrapper with Dominican long fillers and offers up a mellow smoke with silky smooth layers of cedar, leather, and cream. When you reach for the Fuente Hemingway Best Seller at the next backyard cookout, it’ll be love at first light.
H Upmann Herman’s Batch
Size: Corona Gorda (5⅝ x 46)
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
This cigar pays tribute to brand founder Herman Upmann and is a reimagining of the blend he first created around 1844. Not only that, but Herman’s Batch is a prime example of the impressive strides the brand has taken to appeal to the modern palate. With a dazzling array of flavors including cocoa, cinnamon, citrus, pepper, brown sugar, and cedar—Herman’s Batch will keep you engaged as you take it down to its last remnants. While rich and complex, H. Upmann Herman’s Batch is an agreeable selection for enthusiasts of any experience.
Java Maduro by Drew Estate
Size: Robusto (5½ x 50)
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
After a run of heaters, there’s bound to be a curveball. Consider Java by Drew Estate and Rocky Patel—my pick for a blend that appeals to non-smokers and yet has enough ‘real cigar’ for the traditionalists. It’s truly the best of both worlds with Java’s rich natural tobacco taste joined by the sweet and creamy flavors and aromas of mocha-coffee. As either a first cigar of the day or a nightcap, Java passes the test with flying colors.
Cigars for After the Feast
Size: Toro (6 x 52)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
If you can’t get your hands on a DeLorean, the Sobremesa Brulee by Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust might be the next best thing. In this case, Steve Saka intends to transport you back with a cigar made to deliver the experience of classic cigars of the not-too-distant past. On lighting, creamy notes envelop your palate, soon joined by cedar, leather, and nuts with a faint whisper of spice. Like a favorite dessert, Sobremesa Brulee is the natural after dinner winner.
Romeo y Julieta House of Capulet
Size: Corona Gorda (6 x 46)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
The House of Capulet from Romeo y Julieta is no shrinking violet. Dressed in a silky Ecuador Connecticut wrapper atop a bevy of Nicaraguan and Honduran long fillers, this blend delivers an always satisfying smooth, sweet, and spicy profile. You’ll find RyJ House of Capulet to be a flawlessly crafted, affordably priced premium that’s as consistent as it is good. Better yet, it’s a cigar seemingly made for sharing among friends during those long summer afternoons.
Rojas Street Taco Barbacoa
Size: Toro (6 x 50)
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
One of our 10 best cigars of 2021 (so far), Rojas Street Taco Barbacoa is a boutique blend that’s been making waves. Crafted by up-and-comer Noel Rojas, this cigar opens with a volley of pepper and spice before settling into notes of wood, leather, sweet cream, dark coffee, and citrus. Full-bodied from start to finish, don’t make the mistake of thinking of Rojas Street Taco as a novelty cigar. Rather, it’s seriously delicious, balanced, and like its namesake—will have you coming back for more.
Size: Belicoso (5½ x 52)
Wrapper: Nicaragua Corojo
One of the most popular and beloved brands in recent memory, Warped cigars have quickly become the standard bearer for boutique ethos of top-grade tobaccos, small production numbers, and attention to detail. Nicotina is a collaboration between Warped and Aganorsa Leaf and is the most full-bodied Warped cigar to date. Despite the potency, Nicotina manages to deliver the prized profile—with balance and complexity—found in Warped’s mellower blends. Notes of creaminess with some pepper rise to meet you before cappuccino, chocolate, nuts, and cedar round out the blend. Immaculately smooth and refined, Nicotina is a flavor fest for full-bodied fanatics.
Size: 5000 (5½ x 56)
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
I’ve heard it said that there are two distinct periods in a cigar smokers’ life—before a Padron, and after. I can’t think of a better way to end a day of grilling and chilling than with a big, brawny maduro. For this, there’s no better option than a Padron. While many may opt for their uber-expensive, hyped-up, luxury blends, the plain old Padron is plenty of cigar for me. With a flavor profile including coffee, cocoa, and hazelnut, and a price that’ll make you look twice (at how affordable it is), you’ll fall hard (again and again) for this full-bodied Nicaraguan puro.